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When the idea of video slots was first explored, there was one key question that needed to be addressed: how to replicate the randomness of the way in which the reels landed after each spin. The answer came in the form of a piece of software called the pseudorandom number generator.
So, when you play fun online slot games today, this is what powers them. Whether it’s a game that’s themed around lucky leprechauns or a movie franchise tie-in, if it’s one where you’re playing for a sizeable progressive jackpot or one with plenty of features and bonuses, they’re all the same at heart.
The way that they work is relatively simple: each number generated represents a particular configuration of the reels. When the player spins those reels they land in the combination corresponding with the number.
There has always been a slight issue with making the sequence as random as is possible in the real world. This is because, by their nature, computers are designed to operate using guaranteed repeatability–so pseudo-randomness can only go so far. It’s certainly more than realistic enough for slots games to be 100% fair, but any improvement on it would surely be welcomed by casino operators and players alike.
Some researchers have experimented with a number of different techniques to create randomness, including Cloudflare’s left-field idea of filming lava lamps. This works by capturing the constantly changing and unique shapes made by the heated wax and converting them to numbers using a digitization process.
But now a far more conventional approach has been put forward by the TOBB University of Economics and Technology in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Academics in the university’s computing department have developed a solution that comes even closer to enabling computers to create genuinely random sequences of numbers and it works by reducing the interference that naturally occurs between the memory that is being employed by the RNG and the rest of the computer’s latent memory.
This accurately predicts times when only a small proportion of the RAM will be in use and uses this downtime to create a stockpile of random numbers that are released and then replenished. In nearly 200 different tests and scenarios, this has proved to improve random number performance by over 25% compared with other systems.
This won’t simply mean that it could become even simpler to build in genuine randomness to slot games, it could also mean that the sites they are used on become even more secure. That’s because this is also the sort of technology that is used for the encryption of passwords and other personal data.
With the increasing use of security tokens like Microsoft’s Authenticator app, this new technique will create a new way to generate the unique numbers used, leading to even more impregnable sites and even greater peace of mind for anyone who plays on them.
As yet, it’s the technology that hasn’t filtered down beyond the academic world. But the online casino industry is always keen to be at the leading edge. So it may not be too long until it does.